New Goal-Setting Frameworks for 2019

A new year is upon us, and with it comes a fresh load of hopes and dreams--or at least tasks that we would like to accomplish. When I was a college student, I got so fed up with dead-end resolutions that I developed the practice of making a comprehensive numbered list every New Year’s Eve of every single thing that I wanted or needed to do over the next year.

Then, the following NYE, I would look at the previous year’s list and literally grade myself. So even if I accomplished 50 out of 100 goals, I still got an F. That practice only lasted a few years before I realized it wasn’t actually helpful. In fact, it made me feel worse about my progress, rather than motivating me to do better. My past self was ambitious and well-meaning, but the way that I set my goals was already dooming me to disappointment.

May my younger self serve as a lesson to all of us in the new year: Goal-setting isn’t just about establishing and working towards a goal. The way that we set our goals predetermines our course, and can often be that difference between an A+ and total failure.

That’s not only the case with our personal resolutions, either. The significance of goal-setting strategy extends to our businesses and productivity at work.


The Science of Goal-Setting

Studies show that goal-setting is an effective practice for accomplishing more. However, there are many different frameworks that can be used to set a goal. Colin Campell of SalesHacker warns that “poorly framed goals rarely translate to actual growth and improvement.”

This doesn’t mean that we should abandon setting goals altogether, but that we must set them with special care so that the overall process of reaching the goal doesn’t dishearten us completely by becoming a grade or a chore.

Different goals require different frameworks. After all, not all sales goals are measured by the exact same metric. And not every metric is tracked and recorded the exact same way. It’s simply not fair to yourself or your business. Goal setting has been shown to improve productivity by at least 10%. However, using the exact same method for every goal has been shown to discourage flexibility and problem-solving skills.

Fortunately, there are a number of different strategies suggested not just by self-help books, but also by sales professionals. Let's go over a few sales recommended strategies.


The SMART Model

This model is often attributed to Peter Drucker, who is known for his use of the MBO Model discussed below. The first use of SMART in its popular acronym format appeared in the Management Review in November 1981. Since then, the framework has been expanded on by experts like Professor Robert S. Rubin of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Essentially, SMART is an acronym that serves as criteria for goal-setting. Each point involves questions you should use to evaluate a goal before setting it. Not every goal will have definite answers to all of these questions, but you should be able to answer then roughly before you can commit to the goal at all.

SMART stands for:

Specific - What do I want to accomplish? Why is it important? Who is involved? Where is it located? What resources will this require?

Measurable - How will I know when this has been accomplished? Successful goals require consistent tracking.

Achievable - How can I realistically accomplish this goal? Is it truly realistic?

Relevant - Is it worthwhile and applicable? Is now the right time?

Time Bound- What is my deadline? What can I do today? What can I do six months from now?

The OKR Model

This model was developed at Intel by John Doerr. OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. It is especially preferable in group or company contexts because it has a broader range than the SMART method. It is a framework that can be constructed in as little as three sessions.

The first session is to establish objective. The objective is simply a “qualitative statement of what you’re trying to achieve.” In the next session, you and your team choose the key results that will “state the impact you’ll have in reaching your objective.”

In this method, you do give yourself a score. However, it’s suggested that you use a sliding scale between zero in one. That’s right, all you need to succeed is a score of 0.7. Atlassian suggests setting “crazy stretch goals” so that you won’t feel shameful about a low score.


The MBO Model

The MBO Model, or “Management by Objectives,” is a combination of broad and specific strategies. It’s kind of like an upside-down triangle. You begin with corporate and company-wide goals. Once those are established, you can derive the relevant team and department goals. From those, employees develop specific goals, and then those specific goals are monitored and measured.

This way, all of your goals are related so that the measurements and results aren’t all over the place.


Goal Get Em!

An established framework for a goal sets you up for success, just like a frame can make all the difference to a photo or a piece of art. It’s difficult to have a functional goal without a working frame. It’s possible alright, but you’ll likely end up disappointed, and quite possibly giving yourself an F on some great things you intended to do.

So don’t let goal-setting become a recipe for disappointment. Strategize before you set goals, and you’ll find yourself more prepared, less intimidated, and ultimately more productive as you work toward success.

And, if you’re struggling to measure goals in a  meaningful way, consider using Prodoscore to track your sales team’s productivity.